MSHC Frequently Asked Questions

MSHC Frequently Asked Questions

General Program Questions

1. How long is the program?

The program is four-quarters. Students begin in September, at the start of fall quarter, and finish the program in early August, at the end of summer quarter to complete the program in one year. Students may extend the program over five years.

2. On which days are classes held?

MSHC follows a Saturday schedule, with classes meeting one day per week. Over the summer, students who choose the practicum option will meet for class on occasional weeknights in addition to regular Saturday classes.

3. When can I begin the program?

At this time, students may begin the program during fall quarter only.

4. On which Northwestern campus are classes held?

Classes are held on the downtown Chicago campus.

5. Can I take courses outside of the MSHC curriculum?

Yes, students are welcome to register for courses outside of the MSHC program. However, those courses will not count towards degree progress and are not included in MSHC tuition.

6. Is MSHC considered a part-time or full-time program?

Full time student status is defined by the number of credits for which you are registered in each quarter. In general, domestic students are registered for 2.25 credits per quarter. International students are registered for at least three credits per quarter to maintain student visa status. Full time students are registered for three or more credits per quarter.

  • Financial Aid: Domestic students who take at least two credits per quarter are eligible for federal financial aid and student loan deferrals.
  • International Office: International students who are on F-1 visas must take three credits during the fall, winter, and spring quarters to be considered "full time" by the international office and to retain their visa eligibility.

7. Do you offer a PhD?

Not yet. In the future, MSHC will offer a PhD option, but not at this time.

Admissions and Application Process

8. When is the application deadline?

Round 1 Deadline: Monday, December 3rd, 2018
Round 2 Deadline: Monday, March 18th, 2019
Round 3 Deadline: Monday, June 17th, 2019

Admission is competitive, and space is limited; therefore applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible. For visa purposes, international applicants must apply by the second round.

9. How do I apply?

To apply, submit a completed application online, including a statement of purpose, uploaded resume, uploaded transcript, three recommendations, and $25 application fee. Have transcripts sent from all colleges and universities from which you were granted a degree. An interview is required for admission. Those selected for interview will be contacted directly.

10. Do I have to submit all of my application materials at the same time?

Ideally, yes. Materials may arrive separately; however, your application will not be reviewed until the entire application is complete. Qualified applicants will be invited for a personal interview with the admissions office either in-person or via Skype.

11. Are GRE or GMAT scores required as part of the application process?

No, standardized test scores are not required for consideration. However, a TOEFL score is required for international applicants who earned their degree in a language other than English.

12. What defines an international student?

Someone who is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is recognized as an international student. Students who will require visa sponsorship from the university will be required to maintain full-time student status. For the MSHC Program, this means taking an additional class during each quarter of study with exception to the last. These students will be billed at the international student rate. Students who do not require immigration sponsorship from the university (i.e. students whose immigration status is sponsored by their employer or spouse) are personally responsible for knowing the requirements of their visa. In the case that a student’s visa allows for part-time study, this student may be recognized by the university as an international student but be billed at the part-time/domestic rate for the program. These students should share this information with the program office prior to enrollment.

13. Is a minimum undergraduate GPA required for admissions consideration?

Application review is holistic and undergraduate performance is evaluated as one piece among many in the larger admissions file, thus MSHC does not institute a minimum GPA. Each application is viewed in context with the rest of the file, including the statement of purpose, resume, and recommendations, and interview.

14. Are there any undergraduate prerequisites for the program?

Completion of a four-year baccalaureate degree (or equivalent credentials for international students) is required prior to the start of classes. There are no specific class prerequisites for the program.

15. Does the Admission Committee favor certain undergraduate majors?

No. We seek diverse professional and educational backgrounds.

16. Do you require previous professional work experience?

The program is designed for a wide range of experience levels, from emerging talent through senior management. Because we encourage a diversity of experiences and backgrounds in the classroom, we do not have any requirements for full-time professional work experience. However, significant experience to draw from and contribute to the classroom is beneficial.

17. What should I expect if invited to interview?

You will be asked about your career goals, interest in the program, previous professional experience, and undergraduate or other academic work. Please be prepared to interview in person or by web video conference, if requested.

18. Are there any special requirements for international students?

Yes, please see International Student FAQ's for details.

19. How will I know the status of my application?

After the admissions committee has reviewed your completed application, you will receive an email informing you of its decision. You may contact the Admissions Office at for interim updates. 

20. What if I would like to withdraw my application?

Please contact Admissions at to withdraw your application.

Tuition, Fees, & Funding Options

21. How much is tuition?

Please visit the tuition page for more information.

22. How do I pay for the program?

Applicants are responsible for managing their own financial aid process; the program office does not facilitate funding. Although MSHC is a part-time program, students have full-time financial aid abilities. MSHC students have several options for funding, including self-funding, federal loans, employer funding, military programs, scholarship awards, and fellowship awards. See tuition + fees for more information.

23. How do I apply for a federal loan?

In order to begin the federal loan process, you must complete a FAFSA form online.

24. How do I check the status of my federal loan application?

If you have completed and submitted your FAFSA form, you may check with the Student Financial Services Office for the status of your federal loan application. Award notices will be distributed by email only after an applicant has accepted his or her offer of admission by sending in the non-refundable tuition deposit.

25. What if I am currently a NU undergraduate senior?

Graduating Northwestern seniors wishing to begin immediate graduate study are eligible and encouraged to apply. Please note that upon graduation, students are no longer eligible for undergraduate financial aid and upon transferring to the graduate program all eligibility for undergraduate aid is terminated. Students should contact Northwestern University’s Student Financial Services Office to determine eligibility for federal graduate loans. Additionally, recent NU graduates will be considered for merit-based grants offered by the MS in Health Communication program.

26. How will I know if I have a scholarship award?

Admitted students are notified of a merit scholarship via an official admit letter. Admitted students are notified of need-based awards via email from the Associate Director.

27. What other sources should I consider?

Are you a member of a group? Consider affinity groups such as clubs, unions, ethnic groups, professional development organizations, religious organizations, public service clubs, and charitable foundations. Find more info from the Office of Fellowships.

28. Are paid teaching assistantships available to students?

No. The MSHC is an intensive, one year experience. It is expected that the majority of students work full-time jobs while attending class. The busy student schedule does not allow time for program employment.

29. Any other tips?

If using loans, consider paying down loan principle through the duration of the program. Even small payments can help. Interest on some loans does not accrue until after the program ends. Making payments through the program reduces the principle and ultimately lowers the amount you would owe in interest.


MS in Health Communication
Northwestern University
710 N. Lake Shore Drive
15th Floor
Chicago, IL 60611